Saturday, 18 April 2015

It’s basically their job

Brave New World (The Star)
15 April 2015

The one thing that they are supposed to do is to be in the Dewan Rakyat and make laws, or oppose them as the case may be.


LAST Saturday, high in the South Stand of White Hart Lane, a little boy was excitedly chattering away to his father. He was going on and on about his hero Harry Kane.
He was describing in detail how he thought that the new wonderkid striker for Tottenham Hotspur was going to score.
And when the game finally started, his excitement was vented by the occasional high-pitched cry of “Come on, you Spurs”.
Ninety minutes later, after Spurs had put in yet another pathetic display of indifference which allowed relegation-threatened Aston Villa to walk away with three points, the little lad was understandably quiet. It’s tough when your heroes let you down.
And that is why so many people, myself included, were so furious last week when we learned that the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) could have been defeated if most of the Pakatan MPs were in the House during the vote. We felt let down.
Since then there have been many column inches dedicated to the issue.
One online news portal went so far as to check on the missing MPs and find out why they were not there.
Some of the reasons were undoubtedly justified; critical illness, for example. So much has been said that I don’t really want to add any more to this matter; therefore this will be my last word on it.
Pakatan has not been perfect. No one expected them to be.
They have had some seriously bad hitches, like the ill-advised plan to make Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the Mentri Besar of Selangor via the dodgy method of forcing a by-election.
They may have had their reasons, but the whole thing looked tawdry and cheap; which made PKR look as capable of low-level political machinations as their opponents are.
Then of course there is the hudud thing. PAS goes off on its own doing something which was not part of the Pakatan manifesto.
They had been supported by non-traditional PAS voters because they gave the impression that they were far more concerned about social welfare and good governance than ancient criminal justice systems.
Furthermore, having portrayed themselves as democrats, their leader is now going around saying Muslims cannot question their version of hudud. Yes, very democratic.
In other words Pakatan has let voters down before.
So why the vitriol and anger about them letting slip the opportunity to defeat Pota?
Well, because if there is one thing that Pakatan has been utterly clear about it is the fact they oppose such draconian laws.
The one thing that was perhaps their strongest appeal was that they will not stand for such unjust and wicked laws.
No matter what their differences, this was the thing that voters thought they would be absolutely united over.
And the manner with which they could have opposed it also matters. For what they had to do was basically their job.
I understand that MPs in this country are expected to do a million and one things which they are not supposed to be doing and their lives are difficult.
But the one thing that they are supposed to do, their raison d’etre, is to be in the Dewan Rakyat and make laws, or oppose them as the case may be.
Nobody is perfect, but there is only so much one can let slide by.
On the one issue that we thought they would be absolutely firm on, the one job that they were voted in for, they let us down.
That is why people are so angry. That is why I was so angry.
And if the Pakatan cannot realise that, if they can only make excuses, then they run the risk of taking the people for granted and in politics, that is suicidal.

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